It’s not a DIET! Top 5 Tips for Changing Your Lifestyle

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By: Shelby Hunke, Registered Dietician

1.Energize your liferunning


Your greatest wealth is your health. Having an attitude for gratitude and focusing on the positive things in life is the resiliency you need for when things get tough. Try writing down a few things you are thankful for in your life, and use those as motivators for improving your health and changing your lifestyle.

Whether you are a mother, father, daughter, son, grandma or grandpa – you are a role model to someone in your life. Be a positive one and show others around you that eating healthy and being physically active is part of life – an energized life!


bike2. Get moving


Physical activity is a key component to a healthy lifestyle. Remember its physical activity, not exercise. You don’t need a gym membership or equipment at home either. Start with a goal of at least 10 minutes of physical activity a day and gradually build up to 150 minutes per week. Brisk walking is an ideal choice for many because it’s relatively easy and can be done almost anywhere!

Benefits of physical activity:

  • It will help you feel and look better by: helping you lose weight and keep it off, improve your self-esteem, help you sleep better and reduce stress and give you more energy.
  • It will improve your physical fitness by: improving muscle tone and reducing body fat, making your joints more flexible, strengthening your heart, lungs and bones.
  • It will improve your health by: lowering your risk of heart disease and some kinds of cancer, raise your HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol), and lower blood pressure.

3. Lose weightfruit


Did you know that only a 7% weight loss will show a drastic improvement in your health? For example, a 200 pound individual would need to lose only 14 pounds to see benefits in their overall health. Recommended safe, healthy and long term weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week.

Ways to help you get started on your weight loss goals is to begin making healthy choices. Start by keeping track of everything you eat and drink to see:

-What food you are eating?

-How much you are eating?

-What time of day you are eating?

-What types of beverages you are consuming?

Keeping track of what you are eating and drinking is the first step in learning how to change your behavior and making healthy lifestyle choices.

Some important tips to remember:

  • Don’t skip meals
  • Don’t drink sugary beverages (soda, juice or flavored milk)
  • Don’t binge eat
  • Do eat slowly and enjoy your food
  • Do allow wiggle room for special occasions to splurge (birthdays, etc.) without feeling guilty
  • Do be mindful of what, when and how you are eating

4. Cut your risk for developing chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart diseasemeasuringtape


Chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease can be prevented or delayed in at risk populations. Granted there are uncontrollable risk factors in these diseases that we cannot prevent, such as our age, race, gender and genetics. But you can control your lifestyle choices (eating habits, physical activity) – which research has shown will drastically cut your risk of these diseases.

Almost 26 million Americans have type 2 diabetes and according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) almost 79 million Americans have pre-diabetes. Prevention is key, so catching those Americans with pre-diabetes and having them change their lifestyle can delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

5. Improve problem solving and coping skills


weightsProblem solving is a process. Do not give up when you cannot come up with a solution immediately. Do not give up when your first plan to solve the problem does not work. It often takes many tries to find a solution. Problems are inevitable, but most problems related to eating less and being more active can be solved.

Follow this problem solving process:

-Describe the problem (“I am busy at work, skip lunch then come home and eat a whole box of cookies”)

-Brainstorm your options for solving the problem

-Keep healthy snacks in my office or car

-Don’t buy cookies to have at home

-Keep fresh fruit accessible at home

-Quit my job

-Go for a walk when getting home

-Pick one option to try

-Don’t buy cookies to have at home

-Make a positive action plan to put the chose option into effect

-Instead of buying cookies I will have fresh bananas and apples at home

-When feeling stressed will go for a 10 minute walk to unwind

-Keep a box of healthy granola bars in my car to have a snack on the drive home

Just try it!

icanpreventdiabetesThese lifestyle tips and so many others will be part of our next I CAN Prevent Diabetes class. This 16-session program begins on Tuesday, October 11 and will meet from 5 – 6 p.m. at the TCHC Wadena Clinic. This class that I’ll be teaching is part of the National Diabetes Prevention Program. It’s a community-based, lifestyle change program that offers diabetes prevention education and support for people with pre-diabetes and those at a high risk for pre-diabetes. There is no cost to participants. People who’ve done this program have cut their risk for developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent!

You can register by calling 218-632-7115, or e-mailing me at


Shelby with her family after she finished the 5K Sunnybrook Stomp!

Shelby with her family after she finished the 5K Sunnybrook Stomp!

About the Author: Shelby Hunke is a Registered Dietitian working at Tri-County Health Care in the hospital and clinic. She has a degree in Exercise Science and a passion for helping patients live a healthy lifestyle. She lives in Wadena with her husband Paul and two kids, Madison and Jackson. In her spare time she enjoys family time, running with her dog Bela and cooking!

Is Walking Good for You?

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Is walking good for you? This question seems so simple, yet you may be wondering why I am asking a question that appears to have an obvious answer.

Obesity is soaring in this country and around the world. Generally speaking, we are eating unhealthy food and we are exercising less.  In this country the Internet is king! Television comes in a close second and for kids, the Sony Play station or XBOX occupies the central part of their attention.  But as electronic entertainment occupies more and more of our free time and our jobs become less physical, obesity and all the resulting devastating health issues are destroying our bodies.

You may be asking by now – who cares if people are fat and isn’t it okay to be overweight? No matter how much we pretend obesity is “okay” in today’s world, the reality is that the health of our bodies is negatively impacted by the extra weight. Obesity increases the likelihood we will need major joint replacement surgery, it increases the risks of minor surgery and it increases their chances of having colon cancer and/or breast cancer – not to mention issues with high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia and vascular disease, heart disease, stroke, depression and immobility.

Are you rolling your eyes yet or saying to yourself, “obesity can’t be ALL that bad”. If so, you would be seriously wrong.  Hundreds of research papers studying thousands upon thousands of people have proven with GREAT statistical power that obesity negatively impacts ALL of these health factors.

Well, so what? Obesity may be a bad thing, but WHAT can we do about it? Our jobs are mostly desk jobs. Kids love to play video games. Hardly any of us work on a farm anymore doing the hard physical labor our grandparents did each day.  Kids don’t run around at gym class any more. What can be done to reduce obesity in this country and improve each of our health?

Senior Chinese Couple Walking In Park

In 2013, the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine published a study that included 355 people who walked about 10,000 steps a day. These researchers clearly documented a five point drop in the systolic blood pressure in the hypertensive patients.

How about in young people? Can something as BORING as walking help them? A study of 100 healthy young volunteers was published in the journal of Applied Physiology and Nutritional Metabolism. They monitored their activity with pedometers. But, instead of encouraging them to walk more, they RESTRICTED their walking to less than 5,000 steps per day and measured their body’s response to this inactivity. How did their body react? They were able to prove a worsening tendency towards diabetes, a higher percentage of fat in the body and worsening blood cholesterol levels.

Do you want more proof that walking is good for you? In 2012, the American College of Sports Medicine published a paper documenting improved BMI, adiposity index AND lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes with 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week.  They also showed it does NOT have to be 30 minutes of heart pounding, sweat-rolling-of- your-face, short-of-breath-so-bad-you-can’t-talk exercise!  No, just doing the 30 minutes a day of walking will give you these health benefits. No medication necessary! No side effects! No insurance co-pay for your anti-hypertensive medication! You just have to walk!

But Dr. Kloss, you ask, do I really have to walk five miles or 10,000 steps a day? Well, if you want to get the maximum benefit, yes. However, it has also been studied that ANYTHING you do to increase your physical activity during the day will help your health.  For instance, if you buy a pedometer and record your steps each day and find you are walking about 5000 steps each day with NORMAL activity, that’s a great base line! Now, take that information and walk a little more each day.

iStock_000035490740_LargeFor example, instead of parking right up front in a parking lot, park in the back corner and walk to the entrance of the store. You will increase you daily step count up to 6,000 steps each day. Gradually, you will increase your step count and your activity. Everything you do to increase your activity and step count will help improve your weight, your blood pressure and your cardiovascular health.  So don’t be put off by the idea of 10,000 steps – any progress is good progress!

Now many articles and research papers have studied walking and health.  How many steps are necessary to be healthy? (Answer: More than 7,500 steps.) Do post-menopausal woman benefit from walking? (Answer: Yes, menopausal woman DO benefit from walking at least 8000 steps a day.)  Are there other health benefits from walking other than just reducing obesity?  (Answer: YES, walking helps reduce your blood pressure, elevate your mood and reduce your risk of diabetes and of needing insulin injections).


Suggestions I have to help you keep your fitness goals:

  • Keep a journal of your walking.
  • Write down your goals.
  • Buy a pedometer and use it to help document your success.
  • When the weather is bad (bad weather here in Wadena?) don’t forget the indoor track at the WDC high school and the Maslowski Wellness Center.

REMEMBER, you have to walk for 30 minutes AND you have to stick with it! You can’t quit after just four weeks!  Like anything in our lives worth achieving, it is worth working for! So on some days you won’t feel like walking. You won’t feel like getting off the sofa … BUT JUST DO IT! (Thanks to NIKE for their slogan). You will reap the health benefits if you stick with it!

Just walk! It’s cheap. It’s easy. And it works!!!


David Kloss-3About the Author:

Dr. Kloss is a board certified general surgeon at Tri-County Health Care. In his free time, Dr. Kloss is an avid marathon runner. His race resume includes the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington D.C., as well as, marathons in Dublin, Ireland; Paris, France; and Pittsburgh Marathon. He has also ran the Twin Cities Marathon for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the best marathon of all – the New York City marathon for the American Cancer Society. Dr. Kloss has also earned Ironman status having completed the Madison, Wisconsin Ironman race in 2014. All this running helps Dr. Kloss control his weight so he can eat cookies WHENEVER he wants.

His advice to others who want to be healthy:
  • Slow and steady improvement will get you were you want to go.
  • Watch what you eat.
  • Stay active
  • Get to bed earlier
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol. 
Dr. Kloss started out as a self-proclaimed “skinny computer nerd” who stands firmly by his statement, “IF I CAN DO IT, YOU CAN DO IT!”. 






I-CAN Prevent Diabetes

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Pat Lorentz (in red) celebrates Christmas with her children and grandchildren.

Pat Lorentz (in red) celebrates Christmas with her children and grandchildren.

With a family history of diabetes, Pat Lorentz was worried about her health. When she received her pre-diabetes diagnosis and was advised to take prescription medications to help her avoid being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the Wadena native knew she had to make some lifestyle changes. After hearing about a new, free program called I-CAN Prevent Diabetes (offered by Tri-County Health Care in partnership with the University of Minnesota Extension) she decided to give it a try.

Utilizing a group approach, participants in the ‘I CAN Prevent Diabetes’ program find support and offer encouragement to one another. The trained program facilitator educates participants about pre-diabetes and shares practical approaches on how to feel better and become more active in every part of their life.

The class met for 16 weeks and continued with individualized monthly support and additional learning sessions to round out a year of support.

Within 16 weeks of weekly sessions, Pat lost 12% of her weight, nearly double from the original goal shared by Marilyn Hofland, U of M program coordinator. She is down two dress sizes and with daily walks at Sunnybrook, Blacks Grove and the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center she continues to lose weight.

“The sessions were very informative and motivational,” said Pat. “Most days I get a minimum of 60 minutes of exercise a day, instead of the 60 minutes of weekly exercise I was getting prior to this program.”

In addition to losing weight, Pat was very proud to learn at her last appointment that her A1C had gone down enough for Shaneen Schmidt, MD, to take her off her pre-diabetes medications. “It is nice when other people notice the weight loss,” said Pat. “But, the main thing is that I am off my medications and I can tell a difference. I want to be healthy and watch my grandchildren grow up.”

Each session consisted of a weigh-in, a healthy snack and general information and sometimes exercise activities. Pat’s favorite part was the accountability that came from meeting others with the same battle. The group supported each other, celebrated accomplishments and kept one another accountable.

Pat Lorentz loves spending time with her grandchildren. They are one of her reasons for participating in the “I-Can Prevent Diabetes” program and her motivation for staying healthy.

Pat Lorentz loves spending time with her grandchildren. They are one of her reasons for participating in the “I-Can Prevent Diabetes” program and her motivation for staying healthy.

“I have learned that label reading, portion control and journaling what we eat is very important for consistent weight loss,” said Pat. “The main thing was being aware of what we were eating and being less nonchalant about the food in our mouth. I learned when times were stressful to make better food choices.”

Pat believes that we should be accountable for what we put in our mouth, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy our food. She is an advocate of the 90/10 philosophy – 90 percent of what you eat should be good for you. “And, if you don’t enjoy it, don’t eat it!”

If a doctor is telling you that your numbers are creeping up, or if you are pre-diabetic, Pat encourages you to learn more about “I Can Prevent” program. “There is so much to live for, and these sessions are held in a positive environment and really focus on teaching us to make balanced choices. It made a huge difference for me,” said Pat.

icanpreventRisk Assessment:

Do you think you may be at risk for diabetes? Take this short, 10-question CDC (Center for Disease Control) questionnaire to assess your risk. Always speak with your doctor about any medical decisions.

About this program:

Tri-County Health Care is pleased to partner with the University of Minnesota Extension to offer the ‘I CAN Prevent Diabetes’ Program. In this FREE program, participants learn how to create a healthier lifestyle and to help them prevent the onset of diabetes. Participants will meet with a trained life-style coach to learn how to lose weight, eat healthier and increase physical activity.

The I-CAN Prevent Diabetes program will be kicking off with a new group later this fall. You are invited to be part of this exciting opportunity! If you are interested in participating, please contact Sara Stone, TCHC Medical Social Services Manager at

Watch other participants speak about the program…